Jodi Arias Case: Twists And Delays In Alleged Femme Fatale's Murder Trial
The trial of Jodi Ann Arias, set to begin Feb. 1, could be the biggest court proceeding since Casey Anthony.
The 31-year-old photographer is accused of shooting her lover in the face, stabbing him 27 times, and slitting his throat from ear to ear.
The dead man, Travis Alexander, was found in the shower of his Mesa., Ariz., apartment five days later.
CNN and TruTV have both been gearing up for major coverage. Even Dr. Drew Pinsky has chimed in, recently comparing Arias to Casey Anthony.
One problem: The would-be legal event of 2012 may not even happen in 2012. The Huffington Post has learned it could be another 12 months before the case goes before a jury.
"They [the defense] are starting over with new counsel," said Jerry Cobb, a spokesman for the Maricopa County attorney's office.
Cobb says the entire defense team will be replaced. This comes after Arias had asked the court for permission to represent herself, only to ask later for legal counsel.
Arias had been represented by Victoria Washington, who filed a motion to withdraw from the case on Dec. 16. Six days later, the motion was granted.
"It looks like right now, it will be pushed to 2013," Cobb says.
More should be known after a case management hearing next week.
The case has already been more than three years in preparation, and details remain as disturbing today as they were in 2008. In September of that year, Arias was arrested for the brutal slaying of Alexander and instantly commanded headlines around the world, especially after details became public.
According to Alexander's friends, he and Arias met at a conference in Las Vegas in 2007.
Arias, then 28, was living in Yreka, Calif., and was trying to make it as a saleswoman and an independent photographer. The two hit it off and began dating in February 2007.
"Shortly after they began hanging out, his business [and] income began to suffer," Alexander's close friend Sky Hughes told The Huffington Post. "She made it impossible for him to live a normal life."
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A normal life was something for which Alexander had fought hard while growing up in Riverside, Calif., according to a blog he maintained online.
"My childhood unfortunately was very much like any child's that had drug addict parents," he wrote.
"My father was never around, which left my siblings and I to the fate given by my mother. A good woman, with the intent at an early age to be a loving mom. A few poor decisions changed that. As she progressively got more involved in drugs she progressively got less capable of raising children."
Alexander and his six siblings were eventually taken in by their grandmother. It was through her that he was introduced to the Mormon faith. He maintained that faith into adulthood and became a devout practitioner, something Arias allegedly tried to emulate when they were dating. Alexander's friends, however, were not convinced by her conversion.
"There was something very off about her. She was extremely obsessed with him," Hughes said, adding, "She liked him a lot more than he liked her."
Despite living 400 miles apart, the couple managed to make it work. For a few months, anyway. It was not until after the relationship soured that Arias moved to Mesa. Although no longer dating, the couple maintained a physical relationship.
In 2008, Arias moved back home to Yreka. Nevertheless, she continued to keep a watchful eye on Alexander, Hughes alleged.
"She would break into his email -- multiple times -- [and] when he began dating another girl, she snuck into the house and watched them sleeping -- they had fallen asleep on an oversized bean bag watching a movie," Hughes said.
"He would be at his girlfriend's house and someone would knock and run -- he knew it was her. His tires were slashed twice and he 'knew' it was her. His girlfriend's tires were slashed, and again he knew it was her ... If Travis began talking to a girl or took a girl on a date, it was shortly after that Jodi would friend them on MySpace and began talking to them."
Hughes added: "To say Jodi was creepy and obsessed with Travis would be a huge understatement."
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Whatever the relationship between Alexander and Arias was, it all ended on June 9, 2008. On that day Alexander's friends, concerned because they had not heard from him for several days, went to his home in the 11400 block of East Queensborough Ave. It was inside the 4,500-square foot home that they made a horrific discovery.
"A friend of ours is dead in his bedroom. His roommate just went in there and said there's a lot of blood," one of Alexander's friends said in a call to 911.
Asked by the dispatcher if Alexander had "been threatened by anyone" recently, the caller replied: "Yes, he has. He has an ex-girlfriend that's been bothering him, and following him and slashing tires and things like that."
When police arrived on the scene, they found Alexander's naked body inside his standup shower. Advanced decomposition suggested he had been dead for several days. Large amounts of blood were discovered throughout the master bathroom, as well as on the floors, walls and sink area.
It was ultimately discovered that Alexander had been shot in the right brow with a .25-caliber gun -- the bullet was found lodged in his left cheek -- and had been stabbed 27 times. Someone had also cut his throat from ear to ear. Numerous other injuries to his body suggested Alexander had attempted to fight back, police said.
Investigators found several vital clues inside Alexander's bedroom and bathroom. A spent .25-caliber shell casing was located on the floor near the sink, a hair and a small latent print in blood was found near the entrance of the bathroom hall, and a digital camera was found in the washing machine in the downstairs laundry room. The camera appeared as though it had been run through the wash cycle.
An examination of Alexander's cellphone and computer revealed neither device had been used in the past five days.
When questioned by police, Alexander's friends and family members left no doubt about whom they considered the prime suspect.
"[Arias] was totally obsessed with him," Hughes said. "She wouldn't let him go. Whenever he would try to sever all ties, she would threaten to kill herself ... He would tell her he didn't want anything to do with her, and she would show up at his house. We knew it was her. We didn't want it to be her, but [we] just knew it was."
The day after Alexander's body was found, police contacted Arias and questioned her about his murder.
"Jodi stated she last saw Travis in April of 2008," a police officer wrote in a probable cause document. "She admitted they had been seeing each other as boyfriend and girlfriend for over five months but had officially broken up in June of 2007, after some jealously issues on the part of both of them. After they broke up, they continued to have a sexual relationship, but kept it quiet from people they knew. She said she last spoke to Travis on Tuesday 6-03-08."
Later that day, at 10:54 p.m., Arias posted the following message to her MySpace page: "misses Travis. See you soon, my friend, but not soon enough."
Alexander's friends were devastated by his murder.
"He was a light to his family and friends, and he loved them all very much. His death has left a void in all of our lives," Hughes said.
"Travis wasn't perfect -- none of us are -- but he was a really incredible human being. But when you know where he came from, how he grew up, you couldn't help but admire him and be in continual awe of all that he accomplished in his short life, as well as his dreams of helping youth that struggle in life."
On June 17, 2008, Arias went to the Mesa Police Headquarters and was voluntarily fingerprinted. She also gave investigators a sample of her saliva for DNA testing.
While waiting for the lab test results to come back, investigators were notified that several shocking images, some of which had been deleted, were recovered from the memory card of the camera found in Alexander's washing machine.
The deleted pictures were of Alexander, naked in the shower, just before his death. He appeared to be posing for the photographs; however, other photos, which were dark and grainy, "were of a subject on the floor of the bathroom bleeding profusely," police said.
Six other photos, time-stamped that same day, allegedly show Arias on Alexander's bed. According to police, "all were nude pictures," and in some she was in "provocative sexual poses."
As a result of the photos, an investigator wrote: "Jodi was lying about not seeing Travis since April of 2008. This also proves that Jodi was the last person I can prove had contact with Travis prior to his death."
Travis Alexander was laid to rest in Olivewood Memorial Park in Riverside on June 21, 2008. Five days later, investigators were notified that the hair and bloody print found inside Alexander's home belonged to Arias. DNA typing results also indicated the blood was a mixture of Arias' and Alexander's.
Arias celebrated her 29th birthday on July 9, 2008. Unbeknownst to her, a grand jury in California indicted her that same day on first-degree murder charges in the death of Travis Alexander. Six days later, Mesa police detectives and Siskiyou County sheriff's deputies arrested Arias at her northern California home. Arias was booked in the Siskiyou County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder. She was held there until September 2008, when she was extradited to Arizona.
Following her arrest, Arias changed her initial story. She admitted she was present when Alexander was murdered, but said his death occurred during a home invasion. Arias said the two were having fun playing with his new camera when things took a sudden turn.
"I heard a really loud pop. And the next thing I remember, I was lying next to the bathtub and Travis was screaming," Arias said in a 2009 interview with "48 Hours." "At that point, I sort of was just trying to come around and kind of orientate myself to what was going on," Arias explained. "And I looked up and I just -- I saw two other individuals in the bathroom. And they were both coming toward us."
The intruders, whom she described as a man and women dressed in black, were armed with a knife and a gun. At one point, she said the man pointed the gun at her but she was miraculously spared.
"He pulled the trigger. And nothing happened with the gun. And so I just grabbed my purse, which was on the floor at that point, and I ran down the stairs and out of there and I left [Travis] there ... I pushed past him and -- and his gun. And I just didn't look back."
Arias said she kept driving and never called police.
"It was -- I was terrified. And I was scared for my life. And I think there was a naive belief that I could pretend like it didn't really happen," Arias said.
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On Tuesday, Arias' younger sister, Angela Arias, said her sister's statements during the "48 Hours" interview were lies, and that Alexander's death was an act of self-defense on her sister's part during an incidence of domestic violence.
"She was not under oath when she spoke on TV and yes, she lied," Angela Arias wrote on Facebook after The Huffington Post sent her a request for comment. "But, it was because she was so in love with that man she did not want people to know what a monster he really was. She wanted everyone to believe that he was as amazing as they thought he was."
Arias' third story is detailed in recent court documents as part of a request she made to admit electronic copies of letters allegedly written by Alexander between November 27, 2006, and May 27, 2008.
"Defendant had previously attributed the crime to intruders. She now argues that all of the letters must be admitted to support her domestic violence defense," prosecutors wrote in a motion to preclude the letters. "Defendant argues that the letters are relevant to her claim of self-defense and that she was a victim of previous 'sexual and physical abuse' by Mr. Alexander."
Arias, according to prosecutors, is claiming Alexander "became angry when she dropped his camera" and she was forced to kill him in self-defense. Angela Arias made reference to this defense in a Facebook post Tuesday.
"My sister is innocent of the crime they are accusing her of ... She did kill Travis but it was not in cold blood, it was not for revenge, it was because she was afraid for her life," Angela Arias wrote.
Jodi Arias is also claiming that Alexander admitted in the letters that he was a pedophile. But, according to Cobb, the prosecutor's office was able to show the letters were not all they were alleged to be.
"They did a scientific examination of the letters and concluded they had been forged," Cobb told The Huffington Post.
Drama in the case continued in August, when Arias told Judge Sherry Stephens of Maricopa County Superior Court that she wanted to represent herself.
"Do you have any experience?" Stephens asked. "Do you have a law license? Have you even read the statute you're accused of?"
Arias answered "no" to each question.
Nevertheless, Stephens granted the request but had her public defenders, Victoria Washington and Kirk Nurmi, remain on as advisory council.
Less than a week later, Arias' request to have Alexander's alleged letters admitted into evidence was denied. Afterwards, Arias told Judge Stephens she was "over her head." The judge then reinstated her defense counsel.
While the latest monkey wrench -- the turnover in defense counsel -- will delay the case even longer, more drama is likely to come, according to Pat Brown, founder of the Pat Brown Criminal Profiling Agency.
"Jodi Arias exhibits a good deal of psychopathic traits in her behaviors," Brown told The Huffington Post. "When she was getting her mug shot taken, she explained her smiling demeanor as a result of ruminating over what Travis would think of the situation."
Brown added: "She employs a distorted mirror image in explaining how someone else would view the situation. It isn't that Jodi Arias is psychotic and disconnected from reality; it is that only her reality matters ... Arias is an actor in her own drama and as long as she is clapping for her performance, she is happy. If convicted of murder, I can guarantee Jodi Arias will have a great time in prison, amusing herself quite nicely as she moves on to Act Two."
Hughes agreed with Brown.
"The bottom line is Jodi Arias went to Arizona to kill Travis Alexander," she said. "After she slaughtered him, she immediately began trying to cover her tracks. She is a despicable human being and evidently hasn't found enough satisfaction [in] slaughtering Travis. Now she is set on ruining his name with disgusting and abhorrent lies. If you knew Travis, you would realize how heartbreaking it is to watch and listen to what she is doing to him."
Hughes said that she hopes prosecutors succeed in getting the death penalty for Arias.
"I can't think of anything scarier than her being let out," Hughes said. "She would date again -- someone's son, brother, friend. She slaughtered an innocent person because he didn't want to be with her. She has no soul, no accountability. As long as she is alive, those she has contact with are not safe. She is extremely evil, and she deserves the death penalty."